Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Oscar Predictions 2011

It's that time of year again, when Hollywood goads me into seeing more movies in a month than I see in the other 335 days. In previous years, I was spurred to make predictions by the thought of winning the Oscar pool at my local, independently operated video store. But now they've gone the way of the local blacksmithery and dry goods emporium, so it will be no more free credits for me!

However, I somehow managed, without really thinking about it, to see eight of the 10 contenders for Best Picture. Armed with that many opinions, how can I possibly refrain from voicing them? So, here goes:

Best Supporting Actress
Melissa Leo
I think it's likely to go to Melissa Leo for her work in "The Fighter." It's a brassy, yet nuanced, performance. I don't think Amy Adams from the same movie will be strong enough to split the vote. Leo always comes across as smart, dedicated and personable in her interviews. Besides, she was Kaye on "Homicide"! She therefore deserves whatever fresh acclaim comes her way.

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale
Bale is really good as the punch-drunk/cracked-out brother in "The Fighter," another strong performance in an only-so-so picture. He looks like death on toast, and big fluctuations in weight always impress the Academy. Plus, he isn't doing that annoying Batman voice. I don't think there are any other significant contenders in this category, although Geoffrey Rush and Mark Ruffalo both did stellar work in their respective films.

Best Actress
Natalie Portman
I have not yet mustered the energy to see "Black Swan." Just can't seem to generate the necessary enthusiasm for an ornithological ballet freakout  with lesbian overtones. But Portman is the front-runner, and she's cute as a button and pregnant, so she's likely to snag the Oscar.

I did see Annette Bening in "The Kids Are All Right." The movie was alternately entertaining and annoying, but I thought she was spot-on in every scene. If not Portman, then definitely Bening!

Best Actor
Colin Firth
No one's betting against Firth, and with good reason. Not even James Franco will come close, even after chewing off his own arm. (That is what happens in "127 Hours," right?) Firth's performance as "Bertie" is impeccable and quite moving. If I had to make a second pick, I would choose Jeff Bridges, but he's not going to take the Oscar two years running.

Best Director
David Fincher
My money's on David Fincher for "The Social Network." C'mon, who really thought that would work so well as a major motion picture? Perhaps the award will go Tom Hooper for "The King's Speech," but I would definitely pick the innovative veteran over the competent newcomer.

Best Picture
The King's Speech
The Academy eats up stuff like this: period pieces about royalty, especially royalty with physical disabilities. It's a fine movie, but "The Social Network" was the film that most entertained and impressed me -- more than "True Grit," more than "Toy Story III." But I'll be shocked if "The King's Speech" doesn't take Best Picture.

Some of the other categories about which I have an opinion include: Best Original Screenplay, "The King's Speech"; Best Adapted Screenplay, "The Social Network"; and Best Documentary, "Inside Job" (because it's the one documentary I've seen this year).

That's it. Now I can go back to ignoring nine-tenths of the upcoming theatrical releases!

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